I recently had a conversation regarding effective ways to kill cockroaches with a potential pest applicator with years of industry experience. This is one of my favorite topics since it is one of the more difficult pests for most people to deal with. It tends to highlight finer points of an individual’s personal views on several important factors of pest control. This exploration opened up the debate: “Does heat kill roaches?”
Don’t Roaches Prefer the Heat?
This may be the most counterintuitive part of roach control. We tend to over apply one biological characteristic from one species to another. Some roaches like it hot, some like it warm, and some are great in cool conditions.
Whichever of the 3 bears’ porridge they would be happy with, two things are constant among them:
- Providing the currently unwanted roaches with undesirable temperatures will be an important factor in long-term control efforts
- Raising the temperature above their high-limit threshold will kill them
Higher Heat is Not Better
If 130 degrees will kill the roaches, why not aim for even higher heat temperatures? This is a commonly encountered logic with people engaged in controlling pests. It occurs the same with heat, pesticides, and yes, even the stomp method. I can’t count the times I have seen my 6 year old triple stomp a spider. There is clearly some emotional satisfaction, but there aren’t degrees of dead in the pest world. A dead roach is simply dead, it cannot be more dead than dead.
The part that gets overlooked is the type of heat being introduced. If a roach feels extreme heat coming from a particular direction, it is more likely to run away. If instead of conductive heat, convective heat is applied (circulating air), the roaches are going to stick around for a lethal dose.
Maslow’s Mighty Hammer
Paraphrased to my life, when that stomp-haooy six year old gets ahold of a hammer, everything in his world turns into a nail. Unfortunately, pest controlling folk tend to fall into the same trap. It is far too easy to pick a favorite tool and apply it to every situation. Successful roach control:
- uses the right tool for the right situation
- makes adjustments based off of results
- looks for opportunities to get ahead of the control game
We definitely don’t want to apply heat to every situation, but there are times where it makes sense. In a recent treatment, an apartment complex found out that the previous tenant had grown a pretty fancy roach farm and left them with it. With only a few days to prep for the new tenant combined with neighbors who don’t want to inherit the roach farm, a quick solution was essential. Heat was the ticket. In a few hours, we had that unit ready for its normal maintenance routine. That being said, we made sure to put in some follow up and long-term controls to ensure the results stuck.
Default to the Experts
I’m a bug guy, but people tend to ask me questions about investing, relationship advice, diets to try, etc. When it comes to bugs, they want to tell me what works. It seems the human mind is wired in reverse far too often. When it comes to roaches and difficult situations, share your funny stories, but save yourself the headache and have an expert put the solution in place. That will leave you more time to focus on your hobbies, interests, and anything else more fun than the world of cockroaches.